Dinner for Schmucks

We go on the set for Jay Roach's hilarious new comedy ensemble starring Steve Carell and Paul Rudd

Director Jay Roach has brought us a shagadelic man of mystery and some hilarious "Fockers" in his highly-successful directorial career and now he's bringing us a bunch of schmucks for our moviegoing amusement. The director of all three Austin Powers films, Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers has another surefire comedy hit on his hands with his upcoming summer film Dinner for Schmucks, which will be released in theaters everywhere on July 23. How can I tell it will be such a surefire hit? I could barely contain my laughter while visiting the set.

Back in mid-December, just before the holidays, I was among a few select press members who were invited down to the Paramount lot to get a glimpse of the filming and talk to the cast members who were working on the set that day. While I can't share any full interviews at this time, I can tell you who we talked to on the set, and the zany characters they played, but first I had better explain the film first to put these characters into context.

The film centers on Paul Rudd's character Tim Conrad, a nice young man trying to work his way up the corporate ladder. It seems that his company hosts a dinner party, unofficially dubbed the Dinner for Schmucks, where these businessmen get to have a little fun at the expense of some truly bizarre people. The way it works is each employee invited to the party has to go out and find some sort of schmuck and invite them to the dinner party, with the schmuck under the impression that their eccentric pastimes will be celebrated. However, the whole party is a rouse and whichever employee brings the biggest schmuck to the party will advance, in some untold way, in the company, not to mention the bragging rights as well. Tim finds Barry, played by Steve Carell, a dorky IRS worker who has a truly bizarre habit of essentially being a taxidermist... for mice, even going so far as creating these mice renditions of people he knows. Of course, the dinner doesn't go quite as planned, which leads to some side-splitting results.

We spoke with Carell and Rudd on the set but we also spoke with a few of Rudd's colleague's in the film and a few of the schmucks as well. We talked with both Bruce Greenwood, who plays Fender, one of the higher-ups at the company Rudd works for, along with Ron Livingston and Larry Wilmore, co-workers of Rudd who revel in this regular company activity. From what I saw on the set, however, it seems the schmucks could really steal the show. We spoke with Octavia Spencer, who plays a pet psychic, Rick Overton, "The Beard Champion" who has an incredible mane of a beard that he enters into beard "competitions" with, comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, who, of course plays a ventriloquist (with brand new characters he created for the film, might I add...), David Walliams, who is the "guest" of Greenwood's character and, the man who could absolutely steal this entire film, Chris O'Dowd, who plays Marco the Blind Swordsman. The scenes that we saw them film were not really centered on Marco, but every time he pops up in the frame, it's very very hard to resist bursting out into laughter, which I found troublesome on a quiet set. O'Dowd's character spends most of his time in front of the camera stabbing the air blindly with a huge sword and I can't relate with words alone how incredibly funny this is. You just had to be there. The film also features Jemaine Clement, Lucy Punch and Zach Galifianakis, all of whom unfortunately weren't on the set that day.

Unlike many set visits where we don't get to see a lot of footage actually be filmed, with set-ups after set-ups eating up a lot of time, we saw quite a bit of action on this set and it seems that director Jay Roach is running a well-oiled comedy machine of a movie, although that's hardly surprising giving his directorial pedigree along with this international cast of comedy greats. I'd have to say that this is the most footage of a film I have ever seen shot from a single set visit and if this movie is able to match the fun we had on the set to the silver screen, this will surely be another comedy blockbuster in the Jay Roach canon.

While I sadly can't tell you anymore about the film right now, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for my full set visit report in the near future and also be sure to mark your calendars for July 23, which is when this film hits theaters nationwide. Be sure to stay tuned right here for any and all Dinner for Schmucks updates as soon as we have more information.

CLICK HERE to watch the brand new trailer for the film.